Trial update: Anyone G-Money didn't tell about killing?
In Day Three of the murder trial of Katherine Danielle Howard, five witnesses testified that teen-aged defendant Gary Christopher "G-Money" Johnson told them he'd "popped" someone. These were not necessarily willing witnesses.
Four told the jury in U.S. District Court Wednesday, December 10, they hadn't wanted to testify. Two were brought in from New York on subpoenas. Three–- including an eyewitness–- were hoping to get lighter sentences in exchange for talking. And two young women recounted a road trip with strangers the day after Dani Howard, 22, was slain in the streets of Gordonsville by, the prosecution contends, a runaway teen who was living in her house.
"Once I arrived at the 7-11, I met two gentlemen," LaShaya Rayford, 20, told the jury, referring to G-Money and Trigger, a.k.a. Justin Harris, who testified yesterday that he was with Johnson, 16, when Johnson allegedly stole his uncle's cocaine, cash and gun, shot his uncle's girlfriend on February 22, 2006, and went on the lam in her stolen minivan. They were ditching the white Windstar in Culpeper when a chance encounter in the 7-11 gave them the getaway ride they needed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Trigger Harris lived.
Upon meeting G-Money and Trigger, Rayford testified, she took them to a Super 8 motel, used her ID to register for a room, and offered to give them a ride to Pennsylvania in her friend's Nissan Altima. Shortly after meeting them, G-Money allegedly told her he'd shot either his uncle's wife or girlfriend, but the young woman wasn't sure which.
"I didn't believe him at that time," said Rayford, and although she thought it odd, she was not deterred from traveling to Pennsylvania with him and on to New York. She knew the two men had money–- she'd seen it on the bed in the Super 8.
"It was a large amount of money," said Rayford. "It was stacks. A lot of money." She'd also observed a handgun and a white ball the size of her fist that looked like cocaine.
Under cross examination from defense attorney Richard Davis, Rayford confessed that she'd initially lied to investigators about her interstate excursion. "I was scared he might come after me," she said of the defendant.
Rosalind Davis, 20, testified that she drove her car with Rayford and their two new friends the day after Howard's death, and that Johnson had also unloaded to her that he'd shot his uncle's girlfriend and stole his money. "Trigg was nudging him not to say anything," she testified. "The defendant said, 'They're cool. I trust them.'"
Johnson grew up in Queens, New York, and his old friend Anthony Watson was reluctant to testify against him. The barely audible Watson admitted he lied to the grand jury when he said he had no information about Johnson and the murder victim. But after Watson got busted on a weapons charge in New York, and with the investigators from the Howard case leaning on him–- and the U.S. Attorney's Office telling him not to worry about perjury charges–- Watson found himself testifying in Charlottesville.
Calvin Miller was less reluctant. Miller was looking for a way to reduce his upcoming sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and when his block mate at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail–- Johnson–- told him about "opening up" on a girl who came after him in Gordonsville, Miller seemed happy to share his story with the jury.
Johnson faces four felony charges in the case. Testimony is expected to conclude tomorrow, Thursday, December 11.